Ooh, la, la, get your eggs and flour ready and put that favorite Italian music on the record player – because it’s Ravioli Day!
While many people probably have a certain idea of what ravioli is like, it can actually be any type of filled pasta that is filled and then sealed up. So, whether a person has a penchant for tortellini, the humble ravioli, or the not-so-common agnolotti, they are all types of ravioli and deserve to be celebrated.
Ravioli Day is the perfect day to enjoy and appreciate not only the classic dish that ravioli is, but also other tasty kinds of pasta, sauces, and even the country of Italy, ravioli’s native land!
History of Ravioli Day
This delicious stuffed pasta can be traced back to its first recorded mention in the 1300s by a merchant from Venice, Francesco di Marco. By the 16th century, ravioli has made its way to Rome where it is mentioned as being made by Bartolomeo Scappi, who served them to a gathering of cardinals from the Catholic Church.
It was about this same time that ravioli began to be paired with tomato sauce. It then continues on its journey through other mentions and in cookbooks when the dish was first prepared for the upper classes. Eventually, it trickled down to those of humbler means and became a national favorite.
While ravioli can contain meat, on certain religious holidays meat was often not eaten, so many ravioli recipes are prepared with vegetarian ingredients such as cheese, mushrooms, pumpkin, or even almond (amaretto) biscuits.
Most people eat ravioli just after boiling, like most other kinds of pasta. However, in certain regions of Italy, ravioli is actually boiled first and then baked in a cream sauce for a richer texture and flavor.
A Short History of Toasted Ravioli
Toasted ravioli is a more modern invention and seems to have happened by accident. Legend has it that in the 1940s, in St. Louis, Missouri, some ravioli just happened to fall into the fryer at Oldani’s restaurant (now called Mama’s). Instead of wasting the deep-fried pasta pillows, they were sprinkled with parmesan and served at the bar. The people loved them even though, technically, they are not toasted at all. The name “toasted ravioli” just seemed a bit more attractive than “deep-fried ravioli”.
While ravioli has been around for several hundred years, it has never gotten old. Now, this beloved pasta dish has an entire day devoted to celebrating it!
How to Celebrate Ravioli Day
Whether people are new to this delectable dish or have been delighted to enjoy it for a lifetime, ravioli is a food worth celebrating each and every year! Consider these ways to give a nod to this delicious meal:
Stop into an Italian Restaurant
Grab a few coworkers and head over for lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant that has ravioli on the menu. It might be wise to call ahead of time to see if any of them offer specials in honor of the day–and be sure to set a reservation because they may be a little busy due to the holiday.
Take a Trip To Italy
What could be better than celebrating Ravioli Day in the home of the delicious pasta dish? Of course, a trip to Italy wouldn’t necessarily need to coordinate with this day exactly because any day spent eating pasta in Italy is certainly a day to celebrate.
Grab a plane, train, car, or boat and head on over to this hospitable land to enjoy a plate of ravioli, a bottle of wine, the lovely people, and breathtaking scenery. While there, don’t forget to pick up an Italian flag as a souvenir so that it can be hung proudly on the next Ravioli Day!
Pop over to Venice and enjoy a plate of ravioli at a cafe overlooking the canals, grab a table at a sidewalk cafe in Pisa with a view of the Leaning Tower, or head down to Rome where rooftop restaurants with 360-degree skyline views await!
Make a Raviolo at Home
It may seem daunting to even consider making ravioli from scratch; and indeed, there are many good ready-made versions available for those who are pressed for time or lacking in confidence.
However, it isn’t completely necessary to have a pasta maker in order to make a nice raviolo (a large, single, filled pasta shape) for a scrumptious dinner. Simply roll out the pasta dough very finely on the worktop, fill with a filling of choice (meat and cheese are popular), seal with a top layer of pasta, and then drop in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Serve with a tomato or cream-based sauce–and don’t forget the garlic bread–for a lovely, memorable meal on this day where it’s more than appropriate to give a salute to all things ravioli!
Don’t worry, even those people who aren’t into cooking don’t have to be left out on Ravioli Day. Some Italian restaurants sell their pasta fresh to be carried out and cooked at home. If that’s not an option, frozen ravioli is often very tasty. And if none of those work out, there’s always the option to heat up a can of Chef Boyardee, the company famous for making canned ravioli a standard convenience food in the US.
Experiment with Ravioli Fillings
People who are feeling a bit adventurous in the kitchen may want to use the above Raviolo idea and get creative with the fillings. And the options are practically endless! (Most fillings are mixed with egg to thicken them as they cook.)
Take a look at these items, from the standard to the exotic, that can be made into a delicious filling for pasta:
- Prosciutto (Salami, or other Smoked Meats) with Mushroom
- Beef and Spinach with Parsley
- Sausage and Romano Cheese
- Asparagus with Mushrooms
- Beetroot and Cashew
- Brown Butter with Lobster
- Creamy Crab and Wine Sauce
- Pear with Gorgonzola Cheese
And for Dessert:
- Chocolate with Cream Cheese
- Ricotta Chocolate Chip
- Carrot Cake Filling with Spices
- Nutella with Cream Cheese
- Cheery Cherry with Almond Extract
These are just a few of the many ideas that make ravioli a favorite dish, especially because it can so easily be customized to personal tastes and preferences. Use the ideas above for inspiration or feel free to get even more creative by mixing ingredients and flavors!
Try Making Homemade Pasta
Those ravioli fillings will need something to house them! Making pasta at home is a little time-consuming, but it’s not complicated. All it takes is some flour, eggs, olive oil, salt, and water made into a dough. The dough is then kneaded until smooth, then rolled into thin pieces of pasta that become the outer layer of the ravioli. Fill, boil, and enjoy!
Ravioli Guinness World Record
Set in 2013 in St. Petersburg, Russia, the longest ravioli in the world was recorded to be 96 feet and 1 inch long, although only 6 centimeters wide. It was made with a chicken and onion filling.